Today it is common knowledge that the centre of gravity of Christianity around the world is moving southward, away from the former heartlands in Europe and North America to Latin America, Asia and Africa. Christian churches in different parts of the world all share in the Good News of the triune God whom they have encountered in Jesus Christ, but are called to live out and reflect on this Good News drawing on the particular gifts of their own contexts and responding to the challenges they present. Such local theologies not only serve their own communities, but are also part of a worldwide theological conversation. They can enrich others by contributing new insights and perspectives. Local theologies can also build up the theology of the church worldwide by presenting a viewpoint from which other locally embedded Christian perspectives can be corrected, in as much as they are distorted by particular cultural thought frames and biases.
Christianity is a global and multicultural reality today. The diversity of practices and voices in the church worldwide are a gift that can help the church to become more broadly catholic (in the theological sense) and ecumenical as it brings together insights from varied social and cultural contexts. This should result in a church that is more faithful to its evangelical calling in presenting the Good News of Jesus Christ in particular contexts, and that is also more fervently charismatic, learning to discern where the Spirit is leading and how the Spirit is empowering the people of God in ever new situations.
The central conviction driving this project is that theology should be both contextual and catholic: it needs to respond to local challenges and draw on local resources while also learning from and with the church worldwide because of the unity found in the Good News of Jesus Christ.
The following definition is not intended to prescribe what African theology ought to be. Such a definition would demand extensive engagement with different perspectives on African theology (please see the forthcoming encyclopaedia article on the subject). Rather, this working definition is intended to provide a framework with which to approach the field of study. It will therefore function as a guide for contributions to this website, although not all contributors will necessarily sign up to every detail.
This section presents bibliographical articles on a range of topics in African theology and African Christianity. The articles help researchers and students to find their way around a quickly growing field. These articles cover more general texts on various topics, such as introductions, anthologies and existing bibliographies, and they bring publications together under particular areas of attention in these fields. The sub-sections may be organized differently – historically, geographically, thematically or otherwise – depending on what makes the most sense in a particular field.
The CBAT is a collection of thematic bibliographies covering a growing range of central themes and topics that we hope to develop into a comprehensive resource for the study of African Christianity and African theology. Many of the current search engines used in academic research deliver results that primarily come from the Northern hemisphere, and which focus on academic research that reflects the values of Western academic culture. The CBAT aims to be inclusive of resources produced regionally and in a variety of forms. We give special attention to resources that are freely accessible online so that they are readily available to students and scholars with limited or no access to libraries or electronic resources behind pay-walls. Moreover, we aim to include resources that present expressions of lived faith, although though these sections of the bibliography are often more illustrative than exhaustive.
The purpose of the portal section is twofold. In the first place, it functions as a portal to the principal websites that are important for the study of African Christianity and African theology. It directs the user to a wide range of websites both within and outside Africa that provide primary and secondary sources for the study of these fields. As such this website is aimed at both African and other students of African Christianity and theology.
This section of the website presents supporting materials that will (1) provide further details about the vision for this website, and (2) will help researchers and students use the internet more effectively for the study of African theology.
The section contains materials on the value of online material for the study of African Theology and how to use them, and on the value and use of lived theology for the academic theology.
The editorial board consists of five scholars representing the main regions in Sub-Saharan Africa that we distinguish to ensure an appropriate coverage of theological contributions from sub-Saharan Africa: English-Speaking West-Africa, French-Speaking West-Africa, French-Speaking Central-Africa (including Madagascar), English-Speaking East-Africa, and English-Speaking Southern-Africa. We are particularly aware that Portuguese speaking Africa is not sufficiently covered and hope to find the means to add this in the future. The editorial board further includes specialists on African theology from outside the region.